Allow me to begin by saying I like Ray LaMontagne. Or I like his music, generally speaking. I've never met him. There are a few tracks from his new album God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise that sound a good bit like Joni Mitchell impersonations, which is a little weird, but I also really like Joni Mitchell, so this is okay, too. And my problem today is not with Ray LaMontagne or his song "The Repo Man" which I heard on the radio this morning but, rather, with some of the language he's chosen. Language which, I dare say, we all are guilty of wielding. Words so deeply ingrained in our collective vocabulary that they slip from our tongues without consideration for what they might actually mean.
"The Repo Man" is about a jilted man whose ex-'woman' just got dumped by her latest beau and has come crawling back to the one she realizes she shouldn't have left in the first place - or so the narrator would have us believe. We never get to hear the woman's side of the story. And this is not an especially original theme: Philandering women and men. And, of course, people don't listen to music because they expect to hear something new, they listen because they want to sift through the wreckage and salvage the part that fits, the piece of lyric that feels as if it's been written with them in mind. I get it because I do it, too.
But consider this lyric: "Now where is your woman while you work and you slave? As they say: While the cat's away..."
He doesn't need to finish that phrase because everyone knows what comes next. Ask yourself, though - what sicko came up with this saying in the first place? In what universe do cats and mice live as man and wife or as common law creatures, such as the case may be? No matter how charming that cat seems to be, no matter how much he/she insists that differences bring out the best in all beasts, remember: mice are the prey. And if you've ever seen a cat with a mouse in its control, you know that the cat doesn't go for the jugular. Instead, he bats the mouse around. Taunts it. Paws it back and forth and even gives it a false sense of hope by turning it loose. Setting it free just so he can have the pleasure of chasing it down again. A slow dance of torture before death.
So, dear readers, the moral of today's blog is this: 1. Think about the weird but commonplace thing you're about to say before you say it. And 2. If you find yourself married to or living with or dating a cat, while you yourself are a mouse, skip the play. Pack your mouse bag and run as fast and as far as your little legs will carry you.